Child support orders often come about during a divorce, but they are in many ways different from issues such as property division and spousal support. Rather than an obligation from one ex-spouse to the other, child support payments are an obligation from a parent to a child. If the parent is unable to pay for the child’s upbringing, the state may need to step in to provide aid. Therefore, the state has an interest in making sure child support is paid. If it isn’t, the state has ways to enforce a child support order.
Children rely on child support payments which is why receiving parents who have a child support order should know how to enforce it. Paying parents should also understand how enforcement actions may be used against them if they fall behind in payments.
Currently due or past due
How child support is enforced depends on whether or not the child support is currently due or past due. Current or overdue child support can be collected through income execution. This is essentially wage garnishment of the paying parent’s wages or income by the employer or the source of the income. In addition, current or past due child support can be deducted automatically from the paying parent’s unemployment insurance benefits.
When collecting past due child support, the state has multiple tools, including withholding federal or state tax refunds; credit bureau reporting; property seizures; liens; lottery intercepts; driver’s license suspension; or passport denials. Passport denials can apply to applications for a passport or an application to renew a passport. Tax referrals may also be made for parents who have failed to pay child support.
If you are facing child support enforcement concerns, it is helpful to be familiar with the different collection methods and consequences for failure to pay. Child support concerns can come up for parents seeking to collect child support and also parents who are struggling to pay child support.
A paying parent can request a modification to a child support order if they have lost a job or experienced other major changes that have made the order unworkable. An attorney with experience in family law can advise either paying or receiving parents about their rights and options.